Substitutes for Chinese Black Vinegar

Black vinegar has a dark coloring, similar to this bottle of soy sauce.
Black vinegar has a dark coloring, similar to this bottle of soy sauce. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Chinese black vinegar is a full-bodied vinegar made from rice, according to "The Food of Asia." It has more flavor and sweetness than distilled vinegars. The flavor of Chinese black vinegar gives hot and sour soup its distinctive tang and full-bodied taste. If you cannot find Chinese black vinegar, use another sweet and sour substitute in your recipe.

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Balsamic Vinegar

Black vinegar's rich, bold flavor has been associated with the taste and texture of balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is readily available in supermarkets. Genuine balsamic vinegar is more expensive and has a more complex flavor, than black vinegar. Use the same amount of balsamic vinegar as black vinegar in your recipes.

Red Rice Vinegar

Red rice vinegar is not as sweet as black vinegar; add sugar to sweeten it to taste. Use superfine sugar instead of granulated. Superfine sugar will dissolve faster than granulated sugar in the vinegar. Use the sugar-sweetened red vinegar to replace an equal amount of black vinegar.

Worcestershire Sauce

One of black vinegar's uses is as a dipping sauce. When treated as such, Worcestershire sauce is a suitable substitute for its bold and tart flavor. "Cook's Thesaurus" recommends using Worcestershire as only a dipping replacement for black vinegar instead of as a recipe addition. The sauce will not be as acidic as a vinegar and the flavor of your dish.


When you cannot find an acidic ingredient to substitute for the black vinegar in your recipes, "The Book of Chinese Cooking" recommends using sherry in a pinch. Replace the black vinegar with the same amount of sherry in your recipe and proceed as directed. The flavor of the final dish will not be exactly the same, as sherry lacks the tangy complexity of black vinegar, but it will be a close substitution.


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